The Broward County Sheriff’s Office has caught a lot of heat in the aftermath of Parkland. While I feel for the good men and women of that department, the truth remains that some hinky stuff went on, and it was made all the worse in my mind by Sheriff Scott Israel immediately turning around and blaming the Second Amendment for the tragedy.
However, it seems that not only did officers fail to enter the school when they arrived, thus potentially resulting in more deaths, but they violated their own policy in the process.
Judicial Watch today released Broward County Sheriff’s Office training and operation materials that specifically dictate that the first one or two officers on the scene of an active shooter incident “will immediately go to confront the shooter.”
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office’s Standard Operating Procedure and lesson plans for an active shooter incident were obtained by Judicial Watch via a Florida Sunshine Act records request.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that armed school resource officer Deputy Scot Peterson was first on the scene of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, but he did not enter the school to confront shooter Nikolas Cruz.
Three other deputies also arrived on the scene but did not enter, the sheriff’s office said. The Broward County materials direct that if four officers are on the scene of an active shooter incident they are to form a “Quad” formation and enter the building.
The lesson plan instructs officers to immediately confront a shooter:
History shows when a suspect is confronted by any armed individual (police, security, concealed carry person) they either shoot it out with that person or kill themselves. Either way, the shooting of innocent bystanders must stop. Now, the first officer or two officers on scene will immediately go to confront the shooter. Military tactics work well in this situation. The two man “bounding overwatch” is our response.
Using lessons learned from Columbine (the 1999 high school massacre where officers waited for a SWAT team and allowed two shooters to continue) the first four responding officers are directed to form a “Quad” and approach from all directions:
During Columbine, the response to an ongoing shooting situation was to contain the suspect. After Columbine the International Chiefs of Police addressed the problem with the response and came up with the “Quad” or diamond formation. With the quad, the first four officers to respond entered the building with coverage in all directions. This was critical to address the concerns of officers who previously would not enter and just wait for SWAT.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said during a news conference that “What I saw was a deputy [Peterson] arrive … take up a position and he never went in.” Israel said Peterson should have “went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.”
The lesson plan clearly states: “If you are on scene or in the area and hear gunshots, you should immediately access what you have and prepare to respond. Remember, every time you hear a gunshot in an active shooter incident; you have to believe that is another victim being killed.”
Yes, you do have to think like that. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also true. Kids in a school are stuck inside a kill box. Every measure taken to prevent them from skipping out of school early also works to keep the corralled, making it so a killer can take life at his leisure.
That’s why so many SOPs were changed following Columbine. When it became known that innocent kids had died because officers waited for the SWAT team to arrive, departments rethought their strategy. It was then understood that most shooters end their rampage when faced with an armed response, regardless of the nature of that response. It didn’t need to be a tactical team with body armor, helmets, and the works. The threat just needed to be met.
So it is now…except in Parkland, apparently.